In Jeremy Butterfield & John Earman (eds.). Elsevier ()

Authors
Katherine Brading
Duke University
Elena Castellani
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Abstract
Symmetry, intended as invariance with respect to a transformation (more precisely, with respect to a transformation group), has acquired more and more importance in modern physics. This Chapter explores in 8 Sections the meaning, application and interpretation of symmetry in classical physics. This is done both in general, and with attention to specific topics. The general topics include illustration of the distinctions between symmetries of objects and of laws, and between symmetry principles and symmetry arguments (such as Curie's principle), and reviewing the meaning and various types of symmetry that may be found in classical physics, along with different interpretative strategies that may be adopted. Specific topics discussed include the historical path by which group theory entered classical physics, transformation theory in classical mechanics, the relativity principle in Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, general covariance in his General Theory of Relativity, and Noether's theorems. In bringing these diverse materials together in a single Chapter, we display the pervasive and powerful influence of symmetry in classical physics, and offer a possible framework for the further philosophical investigation of this topic.
Keywords Symmetry   Physics
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References found in this work BETA

Understanding Electromagnetism.Gordon Belot - 1998 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (4):531-555.
Curie’s Principle and Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking.John Earman - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):173 – 198.
The Meaning of General Covariance.John Stachel - 1993 - In John Earman, A. Janis & G. Massey (eds.), Philosophical Problems of the Internal and External Worlds: Essays on the Philosophy of Adolph Grünbaum. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 129--60.
Relativity and Geometry.R. Torretti - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (1):100-104.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):837-878.
What Do Symmetries Tell Us About Structure?Thomas William Barrett - 2017 - Philosophy of Science (4):617-639.
Symmetry and Equivalence.Gordon Belot - 2013 - In Robert Batterman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford University Press. pp. 318-339.
Symmetries and Paraparticles as a Motivation for Structuralism.Adam Caulton & Jeremy Butterfield - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):233-285.

View all 25 citations / Add more citations

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Curie’s Principle and Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking.John Earman - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):173 – 198.
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